Sunday, February 21, 2010

"just nerves burning out in a vacuum"

Still so relevant:
You see, there isn’t any such thing as just Art or just Experience. Art can be as abstract as you wish, but it must be meaningful. Experience can be “kicks,” it can be as ecstatic as you can make it — but ecstasy as an end in itself is nothing — it’s just nerves burning out in a vacuum.
Courtesy of an ongoing project to re-post all 700 of Kenneth Rexroth's columns from the 1960 San Francisco Examiner, 50 years later to the day, here.

Marco Roth, today:
...By comparison with most of the 19th-century novels, and even with most 20th-century modernist novels of the "stream of consciousness" school, the neuronovels [like Ian McEwans Enduring Love] have in them very little of society, of different classes, of individuals interacting, of development either alongside or against historical forces and expectations.[...]It now seems we've gone beyond the loss of society and religion to the loss of the self, an object whose intricacies can only be described by future science. It's not, of course, that morality, society, and selfhood no longer exist, but they are now the property of specialists writing in the idioms of their disciplines. So the new genre of the neuronovel, which looks on the face of it to expand the writ of literature, appears as another sign of the novel's diminishing purview.

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